North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ruling had found lockdown regulations irrational and invalid
JUDGMENT was reserved in the government’s application for leave to appeal a North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ruling that found lockdown regulations irrational and invalid.
Earlier this month the Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) successfully challenged the constitutionality of lockdown regulations found in the Disaster Management Act – set by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the National Covid-19 Command Council.
At the centre of the case was that the government had “not considered” people’s rights when promulgating the regulations.
Judge Norman Davis initially made the ruling on June 2 and gave the government two weeks to review, amend and republish the regulations but on Wednesday they made an application for leave to appeal the judgment.
Advocate Wim Trengove, who appeared on behalf of the government, said that the Supreme Court of Appeal should test the conclusion of the high court.
However, Reyno de Beer, LFN president, said the government failed to amend the regulations by the June 23 deadline, rendering their application moot and lockdown regulations legally invalid.
“We are confident the courts will uphold the decision that the regulations were unconstitutional but we are actively telling all citizens to go back to normal, the lockdown is over. Only the sale of tobacco, the opening of casinos and clubs, cross-border travel, suspension of initiations and evictions were excluded from the original judgment,” he said.
De Beer said they believed it was the government’s responsibility to obtain a declaratory order to prove otherwise. “We encourage people to open their shops, stop wearing masks and go lighter on the obsessive hygiene if they wish, and most importantly for churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship to fully open their doors immediately. If we wait for the government to end the lockdown, we are going to wait forever. If the government doesn’t want to give us that right, it is our right to claim it,” De Beer said.
But he said for those who still felt at risk of contracting Covid-19 may continue doing whatever they felt was necessary, but could not expect everyone around them to do the same.
“What is the worst that can happen? Will the government instruct their ‘SS Troops’ to arrest the people who defy the unconstitutional and invalid lockdown regulations? Will the government really arrest the whole country for defying its illegal actions?” he said.
De Beer challenged the government to either arrest him or any LFN supporters for defying “unconstitutional lockdown regulations”. “If we are arrested then we shall immediately insist to be political prisoners and petition for international intervention. LFN will then request our supporters to find refuge in embassies if they feel threatened by the government’s retaliation and safeguard our families.”
He said they would organise peaceful mass protests throughout the country and demand the government to accept defeat against the people they serve and formally announce the end of lockdown publicly.
“If the government fails to adhere to the demands of the people, we shall answer with the suspension of tax payments, organising mass boycotts against the banking and financial sectors for suspending bond repayments and also landowners who have resorted to self-help remedies against their lockdown-affected tenants.”
Cogta was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.